Editor's Note: I had a depressing Monday yesterday and found myself flapping my invisible fairy wings to adjust my attitude. Which reminded me of this Bob's Little Acre and I hereby republish it in case anybody else needs a jolt of fairy dust...
A few years ago I’d never even heard the word “meme,” and the spellchecker on my old-fashioned version of Microsoft Word still doesn’t like it. Yet by the numbers, memes are now the chief beacons of morality, spiritual enlightenment and social change in the troubled seas of daily life.
Memes feature a picture, like maybe of the Dalai Lama sitting there wisely in his little draperies, or Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King or the Buddha, or a sunset or a flower or a fluffy little dog or dead movie star; and underneath there’s a quote telling you things like Choose Love, Because Hate is Too Great a Burden, or Don’t Feed the Wolf of Hate, Feed the Wolf of Love, or Be a Child of Light.
These memes are not such to strike anybody to her knees, weeping and promising God to change. I ask you: Wolf of Love?
But throw enough of them at a girl and they eventually start chipping away at her defenses. Or they did at mine. I don’t know when it happened precisely but sooner or later I caught myself thinking: Well, of course I want to be a Child of Light, who the hell wouldn’t?
Historically, I’ve tended to be more of a Kid of Black Hole. I think if you’re going to be any kind of writer, you’ve got to accept a certain level of negativity. Organizing a thoughtful piece on practically anything means thinking the subject all the way through, and given the human condition – we are talking your sentient mortal biomass in your infinite and incomprehensible universe here – thinking too hard always ends in staring gloomily out at the night through a yellow cloud of Schmertz.
Then too, just by the nature of the work, you’ve got to be a loner, and unless you’re very very lucky you’re also going to be poor. Throw in underdeveloped social skills and incidences of divorce, suicide and substance abuse I am guessing to be way above the national average and you will agree it’s not precisely a Child of Light formula.
But then came the memes. I’d duck out of Word and into FB in a fit of work avoidance and come back thinking: Am I Seeing In The World What I Carry In My Heart? I’d be depressed by something and I’d think, But I’m Like A Ship, And All The Worries I’m Floating In Can’t Sink Me If I Don’t Let Them Inside. Or I’d be mad at someone and realize anger was generating lines in my face. So: Maybe Hate was indeed Too Great a Burden? Maybe I really had better start feeding that Wolf of Love?
But the meme that really got me was the Child of Light. It was dead winter and outside my window, not to mention inside my black little soul, all was dark and cold. But the meme featured sunshine, summer, flowers, I forget what all, maybe even some pretty little fairies. I thought: Me Want. How Get?
How indeed? I made a rule: Whenever I had a negative or hateful thought I had to jump up and sing a song about sunshine. It would surprise you how many there are.
“Sunlight – on my shoulder – makes me happ –eeeee” –
“Good Day, Sunshine!”
“You are the sunshine of my life …”
So I began to be a lot more cheerful but a lot less, not to put too fine a point on it, sane. I’d be typing along or reading the newspaper quietly when a tiny frown would crease my brow, evidence of some dark thought therein; then the reading lamp would crash over and the water glass smash as I leapt to my feet bellowing, “I’m in love and it’s a sunny day!”
All this was bad enough but then, as it happened, I got Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent from Netflix. This is a modern spinoff from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, based on the tenet that the evil queen wasn’t all that evil, just embittered by having been betrayed in love at an early age. It was all kind of fluffy, and if the original story had happened within the time frame of the spinoff they’d have had to call it Napping Beauty, or maybe Take Five.
But I loved it! Angelina looked seriously good in the horned headdress, I want one, and moreover the message of forgiveness and healing at the end was just what my Child of Light campaign needed.
See, before Maleficent becomes Evil, she’s a good fairy with magnificent wings who flies around in the morning sunshine exchanging pleasantries with all the little animals. So now, when my renditions of “Let the Sunshine In” are not enough to chase away unhappy thoughts, I imagine my jowly middle-aged self underneath those big beautiful wings, flitting around with a little basket over my arm, saying things like:
“Good morning, Mrs. Bee. Making lots of honey today?”
“Ah, Lady Bug! And how are the children?”
Those lucky enough to be near me always know when I'm having one of my Happy Fairy moments because I extend my arms and go flap flap flap. And that’s in addition, I mean, to shrieking, “Keep on the sunny side! Always on the sunny side!”
So what I’m trying to become is a Child of Light and what I seem to be becoming instead is a traffic hazard; and sometimes when people stare I ask myself: What If the Journey is Not About Becoming Anything, But About Unbecoming What I’m Not Supposed to Be?
But then I think to myself, The Older I Get, The Less I Care What Others Think Of Me, And The More I Enjoy Life.
And I keep flapping.